Billy Smith blasted a hat-trick as Woodview Celtic turned up the heat on their title rivals by hammering Muirhevnamor 5-0 on their own patch on a miserable night last Friday.
With just four games to play, the result leaves Raymond Trimble’s side seven points clear of second placed Bellurgan United and in pole position to claim the Integral Fitness & Leisure MDL Premier Division title.
It also kills off Muirhevnamor’s dreams of winning the league in their first season in the top flight.
Right from the opening minute we were given a masterclass in attacking football. Smith missed an early chance by firing wide before, a minute later, Stephen Fisher swung in a delightful free only for Paudie Hearty to head off target.
Woodview thought they had pulled ahead in the 3rd minute when captain Mickey O’Kane slotted the ball past Michael Cooney following an Owen Armstrong through ball only for assistant referee Colin Halligan to raise the flag for offside.
The home side were struggling to find their feet and O’Kane then sent Smith clear through on goal but his shot was blocked by Cooney’s legs to keep the scores even.
Hearty then had a shot saved before the opening goal of the game arrived. Stephen Fisher’s quick feet enabled him to get a shot-cum-cross away and it eluded everyone, including the advancing Cooney, to find the back of the Muirhevnamor net.
Woodview were guilty of missing a great chance to double their lead on the half hour mark when Armstrong’s cross beat Cooney but Hearty headed wide with an empty goal at his mercy.
Sean Dixon’s home side eventually established a foothold in the game and captain Gary Clarke went past two players before unleashing a shot which narrowly went the wrong side of the post.
However, disaster struck for the home side on the stroke of half-time when Hearty crossed for Smith to head home the first of his three goals from close range leaving Muirhevnamor with a mountain to climb in the second-half.
To their credit, Dixon’s side opened on the front foot, dictating most of the place and Anto Reily was denied what would have been a crucial goal by a good save from Padraig Gorham.
Woodview possess the most attacking players in the MDL and that ability to cut teams open sealed the result on the hour mark.
Defender Alan McCartney skipped past three players running into the Muirhevnamor half before laying the ball off to O’Kane. HIs quick feet found Smith and he made no mistake, drilling the ball into the back of Cooney’s net.
Trimble’s title chasers made it 4-0 ten minutes later when Fisher received the ball close to the byline before cutting inside one defender and beating another to fire a low curling shot past Cooney once more to send the Woodview support into raptures.
Cooney was called into action again three minutes later when he saved an effort from Woodview substitute Colin Filan. It proved to be the goalkeeper’s last action of the game though as he was shown a red card by referee Denis Dullaghan soon after after a clash with Smith.
The ten men of Muirhevnamor battled to try and stop the onslaught but with five minutes remaining their rearguard was breached for the fifth and final time when Smith ran at the defence and finished with a well placed shot into the bottom corner to complete Woodview’s five star performance.
Muirhevnamor: Michael Cooney, Thomas Conway, Brian Begley, Philip Duffy, Shane O’Callaghan, Adrian Rafferty (Thomas McShane), Gary Clarke, Ryan Dillon, Anto Reily, Brendan Hughes (Sean Conlon), Jimmy Cooney. Unused subs: Simon O’Shaughnessy, Ryan Duffy, Conor Gorman, Darren Meehan, Martin Murphy.
Woodview Celtic: Padraig Gorham, Alan McCartney, Alan McKenna, Raymond McCann, Chris Caulfield (Colin Finan), Johnny Lynch, Billy Smith, Stephen Fisher, Paudie Hearty (Eimhin Caldwell), Mickey O’Kane, Owen Armstrong. Unused subs: Conor McErlean, Alan Larkin, Paul Warnock, Conor Murphy.
REF: Denis Dullaghan.